|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Norwich City’s wretched run continues after West Ham United snatch draw
Richard Rae at Carrow Road
Date Published Saturday 13 February 2016 17.12 GMT
Norwich City’s manager, Alex Neil, announced he was changing his blueprint in the run-up to this match, concentrating more on his own team’s attacking qualities and worrying less about the opposition.
Just over an hour into the game, that approach was paying off in spectacular style, as a fine strike from Robbie Brady and neat finish from Wes Hoolahan looked certain to have ended a horrible run of six defeats in all competitions.
It proved to be the case, but only because they clung on for a draw after conceding two goals in three minutes to a West Ham team transformed by the introduction of Victor Moses. The last few minutes were torture for the home crowd, who three weeks ago saw Liverpool come back to win after being two goals behind.
Even so, Neil took a measure of encouragement from a performance that he insisted was a considerable improvement on their recent efforts. “We were back to being on the front foot more, we tried to attack the game, and we were good value for our two-goal lead,” he said.
“The disappointing thing is we let the lead slip. We have to see the game out better. If anything it should be easier to defend when you have the lead.
“But if we can keep getting ourselves into a position when we’re two up against good teams, we’ll keep giving ourselves opportunities to pick up points.”
Norwich’s start was lively enough, right-back Russell Martin flashing a drive over Adrián’s bar in the first minute as Norwich looked to improve their record of being the team with the fewest touches of the ball in the opposition’s penalty area this season, but it was not long before the Hammers began to take control in midfield.
Only after Brady, playing desperately out of position at left-back, curled a free-kick over the bar did the home team respond. Jonny Howson’s thumping drive a foot too high was as close as Norwich came to a goal though and they lived dangerously at the back, where their high defensive line won some perilously close offside decisions.
The second half was an altogether more exciting affair. Cameron Jerome’s curler a foot wide was an indication Norwich had retained their dominance and the same player’s intelligent cross soon afterwards just eluded Steven Naismith at the far post.
It was all Norwich and Jerome would have surely scored had Hoolahan not failed to pick him out. No matter. Michail Antonio dwelt on the ball 30 yards from goal and was caught in possession by Brady. The former Hull City player advanced 10 yards and with his weaker right foot curled the ball unerringly beyond Adrián.
The West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic, responded by sending on Andy Carroll and Moses, but neither had had a chance to make an impact when Norwich doubled their lead. Naismith’s shot was half-blocked, but the ball bounced up nicely for Hoolahan, running ahead of Naismith, to clip past Adrián.
That should have been that, but not here this season. Moses broke down the left and fired a shot that the diving John Ruddy could only push out as far as Dimitri Payet, who turned the ball home.
Norwich’s nervousness was painful to witness. Three minutes later Carroll played in Payet on the left and the French midfielder cut the ball back for Mark Noble, steaming in on the edge of the box, to fire joyously beyond Ruddy.
Both sides could have won the game: Emmanuel Emenike missed West Ham’s best chance and deep in injury-time Redmond’s side-footed effort deflected just wide.
“The guys off the bench made a huge impact,” said Bilic. “We’re never happy with a point and we should have won the game at the end, but we showed character and resilience.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Ruddy 6.5; Martin 6.5, Klose 5.5, Bassong 6, Brady 7; Howson 6, O'Neil 6; Redmond 6, Hoolahan 7.5 (Dorrans 85mins), Naismith 6.5 (Olsson 76); Jerome 5.5 (Mbokani 85)
Subs not used: Rudd, Bamford, Jarvis, Pinto
Goals: Brady 54, Hoolahan 65
Manager: Alex Neil 6.5
West Ham (4-3-2-1): Adrian 6; Byram 6, Collins 6.5, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6; Song 5.5 (Moses 62, 7.5), Noble 7.5, Obiang 6; Antonio 5.5 (Emenike 70, 6), Payet 8; Valencia 5.5 (Carroll 62 6)
Unused subs: Randolph, Oxford, Parfitt-Williams, Brownie
Booked: Collins, Obiang
Goals: Payet 74, Noble 76
Manager: Slaven Bilic 7.5
Man of the match: Dimitri Payet
Referee: Mike Jones 7